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Monday, March 28, 2011

The New Final Fantasy Game - Dissidia 012 [duodecim]

Does anyone even know what "duodecim" means? I don't but that hadn't stopped me from getting this "sequel" to Dissidia Final Fantasy, one of the best PSP games I've ever played (see earlier postings: amazing graphics and gameplay system). Now, I put sequel in " " because the new game is actually a prequel to the last one (more on this later) ... I know, I know, all very confusing but, hmm, there you have it. Now, to some of you, this confusion may be read as a sign that says - in big flashing red letters - D.O N.O.T B.U.Y!!! but, hell, I was so excited I just took it and ran for the cashier desk. What if the game IS in JAPANESE ... I really cannot wait for the English release.

Got home and when I popped the cartridge into the machine, I was, like, uh-oh, what are these OPTIONS?!? The Chinese/English instructions are so basic they are rendered completely useless. So I went onto the Internet (Darn! Should have done this before I bought the game) and searched the various forums on how the gameplay works. OH.MY.GOD. if I thought the first game was complicated, then I really ain't see nothing yet. What I have in my hands is a piece of rocket sicene ~ and there is NO WAY I can make progress (in a meaningful way) without knowing what I am looking at. There are equipments to, err, equip, accessories to accessorise, weapons to be bought; treasures to be discovered, bonuses to be won, new characters and battles to be unlocked, my own adventures to be created ... how am I going to do all that I have no idea. Also, I am quite disappointed that I have to start building up those characters from Level 1 all over again (they go up to Level 100) and I really hated that in the last game.

 There are Six new characters in Dissidia 012 and they have come together to defeat Chaos (the Ultimate Baddie) ... well, I know they didn't succeed because it is in Dissidia the First Game (now renamed Dissidia 013) that we finally defeat the disgusting looking beast. I don't know whether it has something to do with Star Wars but is that the latest trend in storytelling? By going backwards, we are, in fact, moving forward? Anyway, the new characters are not that appealing to me right now (partly because I have NO idea what they can do or are doing) ... With Lightning, for instance, she apparently can "shift paradigm" ... honestly, this game gives the term a whole new meaning...  Anyway, I think I will just keep going (aimlessly) until I can find a full (English) translation of the game on the Web, or better still, a save file that is not broken ... that way I can just bypass the hassle of levelling up and just enjoy the game *evil laughter*

Monday, March 21, 2011

Bolt and Batman

All that cuteness is quite deceptive ... Bolt bites, for a start ...


***pant pant***


Bolt without SFX


Batman: Give that to me NOW!
Bolt: Alight then ....

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Rant (?)

And a racist one when it comes to that (even though she might have a point there) ... check this out ... a bit crude but hilarious all the same:

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Powerful Shake (2)

As I write this, the nuclear plant in Fukushima remains a huge international concern. Without getting all hysterical, I think this concern is very real. Here we have a number of nuclear fuel rods that are still active and the only way to "deactivate" them is to submerge them into water, which is not being pumped into the pool (where the rods are held). As far as I know, no one has assessed the damage inside because no one can really get close to these reactors without risking being killed by the radiation. So we have a bit of a pickle of a situation here.

 I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY feel for the Japanese people ... not only did they experience one of the biggest earthquakes to hit their country and a devastating tsunami, now they have to cope with the numerous aftershocks, losses, the freezing cold weather, a shortage of food and basic necessities, this nuclear emergency and huge uncertainties. Like people throughout the world, I just wish I could help and do more. If only there are superheroes... Actually, I think the 50 workers, who are risking their live trying to "fix" the plant as I type, ARE superheroes and may whatever surpeme power out there protect them from harm.

My cousin Grace arrived back home this morning, after flying out of Osaka back to HK via Seoul yesterday. She didn't want to leave but her parents (my auntie and uncle), and me, were getting worried. I hope she can return there one day as I know how much she loves living in Tokyo. I think after this event, the the country will never be the same again and I think it will "change" for the better. I met up with a friend for lunch today and what he said may sound a bit strange but with Japan going through what it has done in recent years, perhaps this is the kind of jolt it needs to, well, jolt the country back on track.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Powerful Shake

For those who can read Chinese, below is a link to my cousin Grace's blog/diary entry on the devastated earthquake in Japan on March 11; she was at her Tokyo office at the time of the quake and her blog recalls how she tried to make her way home that evening - and couldn't but, thankfully, located a friend with whom she could stay the night.


Two things that struck me about her experience: how orderly and calmly the Japanese behave in time of crisis, and how social media such as Facebook and Twitter - and those cute multi-functional Japanese phones - can practially become lifelines at a time like this (luckily the earthquake didn't bring down the powering of these networks). 

Just received an email from my yoga instructor friend Anri who is down in Osaka; she says things are okay down in southern Japan - and her family in inland Hokkaido are also fine - but she is extremely concerned for the people up in the North. With a fresh wave of crisis sweeping across the part of the country -- engineers are now trying to cool overheated fuel at two stricken  nuclear reactors that were affected by the quakes -- one hopes the unity, resilience and diligence of the nation (and the Japanese ARE highly united, resilient and diligent) can pull the country through this very, very difficult and challenging time. Okay, cynics might think otherwise but I think it is great that the Chinese have put aside their differences with the Japanese and have jumped in onto the rescue work... actually, am very moved by the fact that several European countries and Russia have all pitched in to help. Can humans actually be less destructive than our Nature?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Split

Just saw this on the Internet (credit: Agence France Presse):

The blonde Californian in her 40s writhed rhythmically in low-cut white trousers as she performed her “power flow yoga”, to the shock of traditionalists.

  By the time Shiva Rea (left), famed for inventing the high-energy Yoga Trance Dance, had completed her demonstration at a yoga festival in northern India, some 20 people had left the room.
“This is not yoga, it’s just a show, but to succeed in California, this is what they have to do,” griped Austrian yoga teacher Florian Palzinsky, 42, as he watched the Santa Monican.
  For thousands of years, yoga has been expressed through gradual control of the body, breath and mind.
  But criticism of Rea’s spirited show at the week-long International Yoga Festival in Rishikesh underscored the growing and sometimes acrimonious split between purists and practitioners of new, innovative forms of the art.
  Rishikesh, nestled in the Himalayan foothills, shot to world prominence when the Beatles visited in 1968 to learn about transcendental meditation from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, helping to popularise ideas about Indian spirituality.
  Now hundreds of visitors, most of them foreigners, come each year to the festival from dozens of countries, bringing their yoga mats to learn about breathing, posture, chanting and nutrition from experts in all types of yoga.
  The classes start at 4:00 am and go on until sunset.
“Yoga doesn’t flow in our veins like it does in Indians so I came here to go back to basics,” said French yoga teacher Juliette Allard, 38, who has been coming to the festival for the past three years.
  German nutritionist Daniela Wolff, 50, said that she felt happiest with the festival’s tradition-minded Indian teachers, such as the spry 103-year-old Indian guru Swami Yogananda who gave his course every morning at 6:00 am sharp.
“They are genuine, do not use fancy words, there is no music. Most importantly, they don’t need to prove anything to anyone,” Wolff said.
  For Japanese yoga teacher Hikaru Hashimoto, the Americans “are very gifted at making yoga evolve -- at changing and inventing new styles that will spread throughout the world”.
“But India is the first country of yoga. The basis of yoga is here,” he insisted.
  Nevertheless, the more unconventional practitioners succeeded in drawing the spotlight at the festival, such as white-robed American Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa -- born May Mary Gibson but now a devout Sikh.
  Khalsa has given private lessons to stars such as Madonna, Cindy Crawford and Courtney Love, teaching Kundalini Yoga -- a meditative form of stretching -- and urging people to find the sunshine “in your hearts”.
  What really matters is that people “want to feel better, be closer to ourselves”, she said. “That’s what yoga is.”
  But Khalsa scandalised some festival-goers when her group held hands and chanted the word “Hallelujah” for 10 minutes, waving their bodies.
  Tears poured down some faces of the group and others looked ecstatic after the session, but their emotional response did not impress critics.
“I’ve practised yoga for 20 years. To me, it’s superficial, there’s no depth -- it’s like playing sports,” said Indian yoga teacher Kamal Deep Ohlan, 35.
“Today, yoga has become a business when it should be a discovery of one’s inner self, a philosophy.”

Monday, March 7, 2011

Tireness

It must be the (crap) humid weather (or it could have something to do with the fact I haven't practised for three days) ... my body feels extremely tight and heavy tonight. During my power yoga practice earlier, I felt this inexplicable muscle pain across my left upper chest; my body was like a marble statue and I couldn't twist or bend very deep. However, towards the end of the class, I managed to do a (perfect) handstand ... I jumped a little to get both my legs (straight and pressed tight together) up and off the ground, then I lifted them up VERY slowly until I was upside down; even the instructor was impressed. It could have been just fluke or all those months of core training with the Perfect Human Specimen is finally paying off!!

  

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A New Laptop

I seldom buy something without taking a look at it first. But with this particular purchase yesterday, I did exactly that. Well, I knew I wanted a Lenovo (sturdy and reliable) and that it should have a 15"+ screen. The rest, though, I just left it to the shop that I'd been buying my computers from since a decade ago. I don't need anything too fancy, I told them; just something with a big screen (for video viewing), a fast-ish processor, a big-ish hard disc and that's it. Doesn't matter if it's a bit heavy cos I will be using it as a desktop anyway. So when I saw my new computer -- the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 15 -- I was, like, okay, it HAS a large screen ~ cool! What's not so cool is that it is a tad too glossy for my liking  (terrible glare) and the CapsLock is so close to the "A" key I keep capping my letters (very annoying) ... but other than that (well, I'll just have to get used to that cos it's a bit too late to change my mind now) this computer is a major upgrade from the last one. The process of transferring all my stuff from the old computer to the new one - and having the latter set up - was surprisingly painless. These days, it seems all you need to do is to power up your computer, link it onto the Internet, and it pretty much configs itself.

Amazing.


Friday, March 4, 2011

Fewer Hang-ups

... and more awareness. Since the yoga anatomy workshop, I've been practising with less self-criticism: "Why can't I do this and that?" ... this is an internal process -- the external process is, of course, to compare Self with others and ask: "Why can they do this and that and I can't?" but, thankfully, because I practise without my glasses on, i.e., am blind as a bat, I seldom compare. But I'm digressing. These days, I pay a lot more attention to the effects of the poses. I enjoy the asanas. When I feel "tension", whether it's of the muscles or tendons or ligaments, I know it can/will be eased through practising (forward bend stretches are so much deeper these days); but when I feel "compression", like, a bone pressing on another bone and there is no room for it to go further anymore, I'll just do a modification of a pose or simply come out of it. Because no matter how long and hard I practise, my bone structure is NOT going to change, c'est la vie! With this in mind, my practise become more free. This actually makes me appreciate so much more what my instructor Lawrence's been teaching: yoga becomes a form of expression - liberation and freedom.

Yesterday I took my regular Core class (with the Perfect Human Specimen) which I enjoyed because the objective is so focused. I do find one of his sequences particularly enjoyable because I can Feel the stretches, twists and, of course, core work: Extended Side Angle, Triangle, then Koundinyasana on both sides (and maybe a half moon before or after). I don't think I will ever feel bored doing that!

Over at Tech-Land, I was very, very pleased to see Steve Jobs introducing the iPad2. Not that I want to upgrade my iPad (camera? no thanks) but so good to see Jobs, well, alive. Such a genius. Talking about computers, I am getting a new Lenovo ThinkPad to replace my existing one (and older model) ... this one has a 15-inch+ screen, which I can practically use as a desk top and watch lots of movies (that's what computers are for these days, right?) But migrating stuff from my old laptop to the new one is going to be such a pain in the butt. I will have to reinstall all the programmes etc etc. I will also have to learn the new Window system ... but what needs to be done has to be done. The cooling fan in the old computer is dying fast (and I only had this machine for 2-3 years) ... it makes all kind of weird non-fanning groaning nosies ... and I fear, if I don't change it soon, it'd just explode on my desk, or worse, on my face.